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Women Make Up Majority of First-Year Law Students for First Time

For the first time, women make up a majority of law students in the entering class at The University of Alabama School of Law.

Of the 137 first-year law students who enrolled this week, 53% are women.

Enrollment at UA’s School of Law mirrors a national trend, as women have outnumbered men in law school classrooms across the country since 2016, according to the American Bar Association.

“On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, it seems appropriate that women are now attending law schools in numbers commensurate with their presence in the larger population,” said Dr. Mark E. Brandon, dean of UA’s School of Law. “Women in law school are achieving at the highest levels, and it’s important that we, as a society, are beginning to benefit more fully from the talents and contributions of all members, regardless of sex,” he said.

Brandon welcomed the Class of 2022, which he called “a distinguished group by any proper measure,” during the first day of orientation Aug. 12.

The 137 members of the UA School of Law’s first-year class were drawn from a pool of almost 1,500 applicants

The class was drawn from a pool of almost 1,500 applicants, and its students are from 24 states and China. Nineteen percent of the class identifies as members of a racial or ethnic minority. Members of the class will receive their degrees in the year that will mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Law School.

During his opening remarks, Brandon challenged the incoming class to make a mark in their studies and in their professional lives.

“Make it a trace you’ll be proud you left,” he said. “Make your mark: on the Law School; on your community, nation, and world through law; on the law itself. Make them better than you found them.”

The members of the class have studied, lived or worked in 28 countries. They read or speak 14 different languages and dialects from around the world. The first-year students have worked for U.S. Senators, members of Congress, and district attorneys. Among them are students with varied backgrounds, including a student who has interned for the Scottish Parliament, one who has served as a Fulbright Fellow in Brazil and another who is a certified merchant mariner.

“Individually and collectively, you are impressive,” Brandon said. “All of us are excited to be able to welcome you into the community that is Alabama Law.”

Alabama Law Alumni Receive Alabama State Bar Awards

Several Alabama Law alumni received awards at the 2019 Alabama State Bar Annual Meeting at the Grand Hotel Golf Resort and Spa in Point Clear.

Walker Percy Badham, III (‘82) and J. Douglas McElvy (‘71) received the J. Anthony “Tony” McLain Professionalism Award. This award is given to recognize members for distinguished service in the advancement of professionalism.

Mack B. Binion (‘72) received the Jeanne Marie Leslie Service Award. This award recognizes exemplary service to lawyers in need in the areas of substance abuse and mental health. It is presented by the Alabama Lawyer Assistance Program Committee.

Jeanne Dowdle Rasco (‘89) received the Commissioners’ Award. This award was created in 1998 by the Board of Bar Commissioners to recognize individuals who have had a long-standing commitment to the improvement of the administration of justice in Alabama.

Tazewell T. Shepard, III (’79) received the Albert Vreeland Pro Bono Award. This award is presented to an individual who demonstrates outstanding pro bono efforts through the active donation of time to the civil representation of those who cannot otherwise afford legal counsel and by encouraging greater legal representation in, and acceptance of, pro bono cases.

Allison O. Skinner (‘94) received the Susan B. Livingston Award. The recipient of this award must demonstrate a continual commitment to those around her as a mentor, a sustained level of leadership throughout her career, and a commitment to her community in which she practices, such as, but not limited to, bar-related activities, community service and/or activities which benefit women in the legal field.

Professor Hamill Discusses Personal Use of Public Property in Alabama

Professor Susan Hamill spoke with ABC 33/40 broadly about the personal use of public property in Alabama.

For more, read “Wasted Taxpayer Money? City’s Take-home Vehicles Sit Idle for Days 40 Miles Away.”

Law School Alumni among New Alabama Law Foundation Officers and Board Members

The Alabama Law Foundation recently announced several Alabama Law alumni as new officers and board members.

The Alabama Law Foundation is a charitable, tax-exempt organization affiliated with the Alabama State Bar. Its mission is helping people in need through improving access to justice by providing opportunities, funding, resources, education, and awareness. Since it’s establishment in 1987, the Foundation has awarded a total of $20.9 million in grants.

New officers are:

  • Richard J. R. Raleigh, Jr., (’95), Vice President
  • Laura L. Crum, (’82), Treasurer
  • Judge Jimmy Pool, (’74), Secretary

New board members are:

  • Matthew C. McDonald, ’85
  • James Rebarchak, ’82

Professor Vance Writes an Op-Ed about the Rules that Govern Mueller’s Testimony

Professor Joyce White Vance writes an op-ed for The Washington Post about Robert S. Mueller, former special counsel, following rules that govern his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.

For more, read Mueller’s a Stickler for Rules. The Ones Meant to Curb his Testimony Don’t Apply.”


Sharon Bala Wins Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

The University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal announced that Sharon Bala, author of The Boat People,” will receive the 2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction at a ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Cover of The Boat People

“The Boat People” has won the 2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

Bala is the ninth winner of the Prize. The award, authorized by Lee, is given to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.

“It’s an absolute honor to learn that “The Boat People” has won the  2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction,” Bala said. “Writing this novel was a meditation on empathy. My greatest hope is that it has the same effect on readers.”

Nine years ago, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and to honor former law student and author Harper Lee, The University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal partnered to create the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

 A distinguished panel of writers and scholars selected the 2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

They are: Robert Barnes, reporter, U.S. Supreme CourtThe Washington Post; Steven Hobbs, Tom Bevill Chairholder of Law, UA’s School of Law; Claire Matturro, author and alumna, UA’s School of Law; Utz McKnight, chair of the department of gender and race studies and professor of political science, UA; and Gin Phillips, author, “Fierce Kingdom.”

The Selection Committee said the debut novel is well-written and resonates with readers. “The Boat People” follows the story of a group of Sri Lankan refugees who escape a bloody civil war only to arrive on Vancouver Island’s shores to face the threat of deportation and accusations of terrorism.

The Boat People touched me, haunted me, and educated me—in much the same way “To Kill a Mockingbird” did when I first read it as an impressionable child,” said Claire Hamner Matturro, University of Alabama School of Law graduate and author. “It’s the kind of book I wish the whole world could read with an open mind and an open heart.”

Bala will be honored with a signed special edition of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The 2019 prize will be awarded August 29 at the Library of Congress in conjunction with the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. After the award is presented, the Selection Committee will discuss Bala ’s “The Boat People” in relation to Lee’s work.

“The Boat People” is timely and powerful. Even those who think they are versed in the various vantage points involved in the complex area of immigration will gain a deeper appreciation of the nuances by reading Sharon Bala’s first novel,” said Molly McDonough, editor and publisher of the ABA Journal. “The book explores the perspectives of desperate refugees; the attorneys who–voluntarily or not–are trying to help them; and the adjudicators who are asked to make potentially life-or-death decisions with little to no evidence.” 

Professor Carroll Weighs in on Prosecutors Dropping Charge Against an Alabama Woman after Death of Fetus

Professor Jenny Carroll is quoted in The New York Times about prosecutors in Alabama dropping a manslaughter charge against a woman after the death of her fetus.

For more, read “Manslaughter Charge Dropped Against Alabama Woman Who Was Shot While Pregnant.”

Law Student Co-Writes George Washington Law Review Article on Interrogating Police Officers

Atticus DeProspo, a rising third-year law student, co-wrote an article in the George Washington Law Review that analyzes protections given to police officers facing disciplinary investigations. The article is co-written by Stephen Rushin, an assistant professor of law at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Professor Rushin specializes in police reform, criminal sentencing, and civil rights.

For more, read “Interrogating Police Officers.”

Professor Fair Comments on the Arrest of Alabama Mother Whose Unborn Baby Was Fatally Shot

Professor Bryan Fair is quoted in The New York Times about the case of Marshae Jones, who was arrested after her unborn baby was fatally shot.

For more, read “Alabamians Defend Arrest of Woman Whose Fetus Died in Shooting.”

Professor Rosen Appointed as Uniform Law Commissioner

Governor Kay Ivey has appointed Professor Kenneth M. Rosen of The University of Alabama School of Law to represent the state of Alabama on the Uniform Law Commission (ULC). The ULC maintains a critical role in the evolution of state law around the nation.

Kenneth Rosen

Kenneth Rosen

The ULC, also called the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, dates its origins to the nineteenth century.  Commissioners have included lawyers who would become leading academics, cabinet members, Supreme Court Justices, and a President of the United States.  Over the years, the ULC has worked to examine state laws and areas where greater uniformity across states codes might be useful.  Representatives from different states and territories work together under the ULC’s auspices to promulgate model legislation that can be adopted by individual states.  The ULC is notably influential in the commercial law arena, having helped foster the Uniform Commercial Code that provides a foundation for business law in multiple states.  However, the ULC works on laws related to a large variety of significant subjects.

Professor Rosen’s new role as a Commissioner continues his noteworthy public service and participation in the public policy-making process.  Prior to becoming a professor, Professor Rosen was a Special Counsel at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.  Since arriving at The University of Alabama in 2003, Professor Rosen has continued to assist state and federal government officials.  Recognition of his expertise has led to his work with such officials behind the scenes as well as in more public venues, such as for his testimony before the Committee on Financial Services of the United States House of Representatives.

Professor Rosen’s term of service as Commissioner will run to April 4, 2023.